Pages from the Visitor’s Diary…

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April 1, 2013 by amoolyarajappa

These are just a few snippets from the diary I maintained to record the progress of my project on the Birmingham Pub bombings. They were written at regular intervals or more particularly at specific junctures during the project- while carrying out research, after interviewing people, while reflecting etc… I was not blogging them, hence they are rather shabbily written in a very informal tone. However, I thought it’s worth posting them because they trace the way this project has forced me to think, introspect and hone my skills at different levels.

10th February 2013

Getting to the heart of the story…

I have now finalized the ‘1974 Birmingham pub bombings’ as a topic for my project.  The fact that the pub bombings case has not found a closure until today makes it one of the most intriguing cases ever. One of the main objectives of choosing this project is that it allows me to develop deep research skills prerequisite for any aspiring journalist. But it’s only now (when I am actually going through what conspired in 1974) that I am getting to understand the difficulty in relating to the topic I have chosen. Since I am not a Brummie, I am finding it seemingly difficult to read up, comprehend and understand different aspects of my research like the Irish Republican struggle in Britain, the context of 1974 just before the bombings happened, incompetence of Police in handling the case etc… Also researching on the many different perspectives of ‘who actually did it’ (though very interesting) is mind-boggling. It leaves you with many unanswered questions (a connecting dots kind of a scenario). At this point, I do not know if that’s how I should put it but- more research is only making it more complicated!! Strangely, I love this state of confusion.


14th February 2013

Difficulties and disappointments…

By now, I thought I would have mastered the art of dealing with turned down interview requests. But sadly, it still hurts…every time you miss an important interview, you picture your project falling apart, bit by bit. Just heard from Sir Albert Bore’s office (just another bureaucratic email explaining reasons why they cannot arrange this interview), and it is a rejection again. In two weeks, this is the fourth one (fifth expected any time now!). Carl Chinn, Chris Mullin, Gareth Peirce (all resourceful interviewees whose opinions are central to my topic) and counting. Thanks to Plan B, I have some more people (equally important ones) who are willing to be interviewed on this rather sensitive issue.  However, the wait for more positive responses (emails) continues…

6th March, 2013

There’s nothing like interviewing people who actually lived it…

I have just returned after attending one of the heritage group meetings of the Irish community in Birmingham. And it was an absolutely enriching experience meeting old blokes in the Irish centre (located in Digbeth) who recall the pub bombings as one of most unfortunate events ever. When I first decided to attend the meeting, I was very oblivious to the variety of opinion I might find there. But as my tutor says, “there is nothing like interviewing people who actually lived it”. True that! I was literally moved by what some Irishmen had to say. Here are some accounts (ah, thanks to journalism, it’s a beauty to interview people who say such things….just feel very lucky to have met these old blokes). I will never forget these lines.

“We hated the bombers more than the British did”- an Irishmen whose house was frisked by the police two days after the bombings. He was also questioned by the Serious Crime squad.

“If you had been in Birmingham only for a few weeks after the bombings, I assure you, you would never want to be Irish in your life again”- an old man in his eighties, who was witness to the backlash in 1974.

20th April, 2013

A thousand hits and counting…

I am beaming with joy even as I write this. Today my blog crossed a thousand mark for blog hits (yay!) Frankly, I never anticipated such a response, so I am indeed thrilled. One of my risks (identified as part of the project process) included a complete failure of my blog as many people may not be interested. But, the kind of response says otherwise. There are still many people who relate to the bombings distinctly…and those who have been directly or indirectly part of it…and those who suffered some serious consequences…or those whose lives changed forever because of the 1974 pub bombings…and finally those who got sucked into it in the most unfortunate ways possible. Hence, the issue (however sensitive it might be) still strikes a chord with many Brummies. And hence a thousand hits I guess… (I am glad it’s still counting).

24th April, 2013

Looking back…

I may have a long list of what I regret not doing…but when I look back and introspect on the journey of my project, I only feel that it has been an incredible experience. May it be setting up important interviews or meeting real people, collecting valuable (archival) information or probably just the apathy surrounding the whole issue, the project has made me think and learn at various capacities- as a trainee journalist, as an empathizer, as a professional, as a researcher or just another person who loves Brum (If that’s how I should put it, I am really glad I took up this project).


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